Nights in Rodanthe: Reateaming Richard Gere and Diane Lane

“Nights in Rodanthe” marks the third screen pairing of Richard Gere and Diane Lane. The two first met playing reckless lovers 24 years ago in Francis Ford Coppola's “The Cotton Club,” and more recently portrayed a couple whose faltering marriage still radiates heat in the memorable 2002 drama “Unfaithful.”

Remarking on their palpable onscreen chemistry, Gere and Lane slip into an easy banter that proves the point even as they laugh about it. Lane cites the example of actors with sizzling real-life chemistry whose romantic scenes can fall inexplicably flat on film, before joking, “Richard and I have the opposite situation. We feel absolutely nothing standing next to each other.” at which point Gere jumps in to corroborate, “I mean nothing. Less than nothing. Yet, when you see it on screen it's all there. It's a miracle.”

Sense of Trust

In truth, he goes on to say, “Our friendship has evolved over the years into a great sense of trust. I love working with her.” Gere also believes that the differences between who they were in their “Cotton Club” days, both as actors and as individuals, and who they have since become, is appropriate to the kind of relationship that develops between Paul and Adrienne. “What was important to me in taking on this role, and Diane too, I believe, was that it wasn't a story about kids who are goo-goo-eyed about each other from the moment they meet. It's not that kind of movie. There are scenes in which they barely look at each other, but there is a powerful and deepening understanding at work and you can feel it evolve in front of you.”

More Insight and Personality

Adds Lane, “What you potentially bring to a relationship at this stage is often so much more than what you had to offer at eighteen. You have more insight, more personality and more appreciation of things–and of each other.”

As all of these elements come together in the growing rapport between Paul and Adrienne, two people caught by a storm in the Outer Banks, “It never feels as though we are watching two actors. Rather, it's as if we're just watching two human beings experiencing life,” notes Wolfe.

Chances to Learn

Just as there is always a chance to fall in love and to find your purpose, there is always a chance to learn, to do things better and to make things right with the people in our lives. Beyond Paul and Adrienne are other key players in this drama, who support or challenge them in ways that help bring them to this juncture.

It is Torrelson's tragedy that precipitates Paul's journey to the Outer Banks and, subsequently, the opportunity for some serious soul-searching. It is Jack, Adrienne's conflicted husband, who creates the crisis that sets her adrift. And it is Jean whose decision to entrust the inn to Adrienne this fateful weekend provides the perfect setting for storms to break and love to take hold.

Paul's situation with Torrelson occurs almost simultaneously with the dissolution of his marriage and the deepening estrangement with his son, but, of the three, it's the one problem that appears to have the simplest solution. Wolfe explains, “Paul is focused on his career crisis. A patient has died and her husband has filed a wrongful death suit. As is frequently the case with very focused, driven and accomplished people like Paul, he is not necessarily skilled at processing failure, loss or disappointment. He's good at fixing things. He likes to leap over the complications and get to the result. So he has come to Rodanthe to fix this.”

Scott Glenn

Scott Glenn, who plays the grieving widower, says, “What Paul fails to understand is that Torrelson isn't interested in money. It's not about the lawsuit; he wants an apology. He wants to make sure that this person he loved, who died, was not just another number, that she was important and precious. The point, for him, is to get this doctor's attention and hear him acknowledge that he screwed up and he's sorry.”

“Scott is brilliant,” says Di Novi. “The scene in which Torrelson confronts Paul is just indescribably beautiful. This is a man deeply in pain, who has such a hard time expressing it. It's clear that this is the first time Paul has been forced to connect with another human being in this way.”

While Paul struggles to make sense of this encounter and wonders how to approach his next challenge–mending the rift with his son–Adrienne is trying to decide how she feels about Jack, whose heartfelt pleas, even in this remote outpost, are as close as the telephone.

Christopher Meloni

Meloni, who stars as Jack, sees his part as “the catalyst. Jack lights the fuse of what becomes Adrienne's journey. He pushes her into this dilemma where she has to reconcile and examine everything to figure out what's right or wrong for her and where she goes next.”

The role is more complex than would first appear. Di Novi points out, “No one sets out to be the bad guy. No one plans to do the wrong thing. There was a reason that Adrienne fell in love with Jack and we must understand there was a reason they were married for so long. It was essential that the actor who played Jack was able to bring out all these colors so he is not a black-and-white character.”

“He must be a worthy contender, so that you see Adrienne being genuinely and believably tugged back in his direction,” adds Wolfe.

Ultimately, says Meloni, “Jack is sincere in wanting to be part of the family again, but I don't feel he's coming back for the right reasons. Even through his sincerity you get the sense that there's something not quite right about him, and, hopefully, audiences will pick up some of the misgivings Adrienne feels toward him, without necessarily even knowing why.”

Viola Davis

One person who would likely agree is Adrienne's loyal friend and confidant Jean, played by Viola Davis. Jean provides encouragement, humor and honest opinions, without waiting to be asked. Clearly, the two women go back a long way together, as Jean's home, the inn, is full of crafts they made as girls, plus photos and mementos that share space with Jean's travel souvenirs and the eclectic mix of art she has either made or collected through the years.

Says Di Novi, “Jean represents a completely liberated woman. She knows who she is and doesn't care what people think. She gives full expression to her art and talent and lives life to the fullest, and in some ways that's what Adrienne aspires to.”

Certainly Adrienne has those same elements in her nature, but, Davis observes, “While Jean pursued the dreams they likely both had as younger women, Adrienne is the one who suppressed some of that to raise children and lead a more stable, conservative life, forsaking certain freedoms and putting everyone else's needs first. They're a good match because they balance each other's choices while sharing a similar point of view.”

Similarly, Jean's freewheeling style is much different from the life Davis lives, which added to the challenge and fun of the role, and was part of the reason Wolfe cast her. “This is definitely not who I am,” she says. “Jean is much more flamboyant and free and would do things I would never do. I'm more grounded and introverted.”

Wolfe and Davis are both associated with the Public Theatre, but this the first time that they have collaborated so closely as director and actor. In casting her for “Rodanthe,” he was confident that “Viola could convey Jean's warmth and playful vitality as well as the strong soul beneath, a woman who is fiercely protective of her best friend.”

Joining the main cast is Mae Whitman (“Arrested Development”) as Adrienne's emotional and headstrong daughter Amanda, whose desire for her parents' reconciliation weighs heavily on Adrienne; and Pablo Schreiber (“The Wire”) as Robert Torrelson's son Charlie, who vents his grief fiercely when Paul comes to talk.